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Cord Curling, Part 1 - Thermoforming 


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Cord Curling, Part 1 - 


Written By: Sean Michael Ragan 


• Heat gun (1) 

• Metal mandrel (1) 

• Sink with sprayer (1) 


• Duct tape (1) 

• Aluminum foil (1) 

• Water (1) 

• Cord to be coiled (1) 


I really heart coiled cords. I think coiling is a very elegant way of dealing with the problem of 
unsightly slack cables, and often I find myself wishing that this or that appliance had come 
with a coiled cord. Replacement cords that are factory-coiled can usually be purchased and 
installed (if necessary), but that may be an unnecessary expense because, with some 
simple tools, it is easy to coil a straight cord yourself. 

Update: Thanks to tips from Bart Patrzalek and Brian Adams, this is now a two-part guide. 
The second part describes how to reverse the coil using a hand drill for even tighter curling! 

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Cord Curling, Part 1 - Thermoforming 

• NOTE: If you're planning to continue on to Part 2, Reversing the Coil you might as 
well go ahead and take the connectors off, now. You'll need to have removed them 
for that step, anyway, and this one will be a lot easier if you don't have to worry about 
damaging them with the heat. 

• Find a metal round, the outer diameter of which is equal to the internal diameter of the coi 
you want to set. 

• Duct-tape one end of the cord to one end of the mandrel, as shown, and then wind the cord 
itself tightly around the mandrel until all the slack is taken up. 

• Duct-tape the other end of the cord. 

• Make sure to use plenty of tape so the coil doesn't come loose with handling. 

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Cord Curling, Part 1 - Thermoforming 

• If your cord has a connector 
at either end, you have to be 
careful not to melt, warp, or 
otherwise damage it in the process 
of setting the coil. 

• Cover the taped ends of the cord 
with aluminum foil, reflective side 

• This will help to reflect heat 
from the heat gun away 
from those places you don't want it 
to go. 

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Cord Curling, Part 1 - Thermoforming 

• Be sure to work in a 
ventilated area. If you do 
this correctly, the plastic will 
smoke only for a moment, but it's 
good form to avoid exposing 
yourself to that smoke in any case. 

• Set the mandrel across a sink, as 
shown, and roll it back and forth 
with one hand (to distribute the 
heat evenly) while waving the heat 
gun with the other. 

• If you don't have a sink or 
your coil is too long for one, 
you may have to improvise some 
other arrangement for rotating the 
mandrel while simultaneously 
applying heat. 

Apply heat gradually, over the 
course of about ten minutes, unti 
the plastic insulation just begins to 

Immediately remove the heat and 
quench the hot cord with cold 
water. Continue cooling until the 
cord is barely warm to the touch. 

Remove the cord from the mandrel 
and blow-dry it completely with the 
heat gun on a low setting. 

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Cord Curling, Part 1 - Thermoforming 

• Do not attempt to use the coiled cord until you have verified with a multimeter that it 
is not shorted or otherwise damaged. 

• Using the continuity/ohmmeter setting, apply the probes to corresponding leads or 
contacts at each end of the cord. The circuit should close for corresponding leads, but 
should open when you move one probe to the other lead. 

• If the tape leaves behind residue on the cord, use a paper towel moistened with a 
dab of acetone to remove it. 

Instead of rotating the pipe as you apply heat, it might be possible to direct the air from the heat 
gun down the length of the mandrel (assuming it's hollow) from one end, perhaps using a metal 
funnel to help channel the hot air. This operation should heat the circumference of the pipe, and 
thus the cord, more-or-less-evenly. 

Update: Don't miss Part 2, Reversing the Coil . The best is yet to come! 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 04:07:21 AM. 

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